Southeastern News

Southeastern ranks in top 10 nationally for producing Native American graduates

DURANT, Okla. – According to the latest rankings in Diverse Issues In Higher Education, Southeastern Oklahoma State University is among the top schools in the nation for producing Native American graduates. In the undergraduate category, Southeastern has nine different fields represented in the national top 10; in the graduate degree category, Southeastern has three programs recognized in the top 10. The University ranks number one in Occupational Safety & Health (undergraduate and graduate) and 10th in the nation in all disciplines combined (undergraduate).

“It is a great honor for us to be recognized nationally for our work with Native American students,” said Southeastern president Larry Minks. “What is most impressive to me is the number of different subject areas that are represented in the rankings. We have a number of programs in place, including the U.S. Department of Education grant that we received last year, to assist students. The Native American Center for Student Success continues to do an outstanding job as well. Finally, we are very appreciative to have tremendous support from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation. The partnerships that have been established with both nations make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students.”

Each year, the magazine publishes its top 100 rankings of minority graduates. The report is based on preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2010-11 school year. Following are Southeastern’s national rankings, by field, in the top 100 degree producers list (Native American students) as released by Diverse Issues In Higher Education.

Undergraduate 1 — Engineering Technologies and Engineering Related Fields (Occupational Safety and Health) 2 — Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs 3 — Transportation and Materials Moving (Aviation) 4 — Education 4 — Psychology 5 — Parks, Recreation, Leisure and Fitness Studies 7 — Marketing 8 — Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities 9 — Biological and Biomedical Sciences 10 — All Disciplines Combined

Graduate 1 — Engineering (Occupational Safety & Health) 4 — Psychology (Clinical Mental Heath Counseling) 8 — Education 11 — All Disciplines Combined

Southeastern has a number of programs and initiatives in place to assist Native American students. Last year, the University received a $2 million federal grant to enhance the academic success of its Native American students. The five-year, $1,995,623 Title III grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. Chris Wesberry, Native American Center for Student Success coordinator, was principal investigator for the project, and Tim Boatmun, Associate Dean for Academic Services, was co-principal investigator. Also assisting in writing the proposal was Paul Buntz, grant coordinator-writer.

The “Connect2Complete (C2C) Project” strives to bolster the retention rates and graduation rates of Native American students at Southeastern. Currently, approximately 30 percent of Southeastern’s enrollment is comprised of Native Americans.

Also, the Southeastern Native American Center for Student Success provides advisement and assistance in accessing external funding for Native American students. The center also houses staff from the Choctaw Nation Scholarship Advisement Program and the Chickasaw Nation Education Services and offers a College Success course for new freshmen.

The Center is home to the “Native American Excellence in Education” grant funded by the Office of Indian Education to assist with preparing future Native American educators.

Southeastern also offers a Native American Studies minor, Native American management option and four courses in Choctaw Language and Culture.

Each year, Southeastern partners with the Choctaw Nation to sponsor “Native American Visitation Day,” in which high school students experience the college setting.

Among other activities, the University hosts the Native American Symposium and Film Festival.